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Hooliganism refers to unruly, destructive, aggressive and bullying behaviour. Such behaviour is commonly associated with sports fans, particularly supporters of association football. The term can also apply to general rowdy behaviour and vandalism, often under the influence of alcohol and or drugs. (See citation from Cafe Racer TV referring to Frank Ford.)



There are several theories about the origin of the word hooliganism. The Compact Oxford English Dictionary states that word may originate from the surname of a fictional rowdy Irish family in a music hall song of the 1890s.[1][2] Clarence Rook, in his 1899 book, Hooligan Nights, claimed that the word came from Patrick Hoolihan (or Hooligan), an Irish bouncer and thief who lived in the London borough of Southwark.[3] Another writer, Earnest Weekley, wrote in his 1912 book Romance of Words, "The original hooligans were a spirited Irish family of that name whose proceedings enlivened the drab monotony of life in Southwark about fourteen years ago".[3] There have also been references made to a 19th-century rural Irish family with the surname Houlihan who were known for their wild lifestyle, then later evolving into O'Holohan (in keeping with the tradition of Irish families for O' to begin the anglicised name, the Gaelic being Ó hUallacháin).[citation needed] Another theory is that the term came from a street gang in Islington named Hooley.[citation needed] Yet another theory is that the term is based on an Irish word, houlie, which means "a wild, spirited party".[4]

Early usage of the term

The term hooligan has been used since at least the mid 1890s—when it was used to describe the name of a street gang in London—at approximately the same time as Manchester's street gangs, known as the "Scuttlers" were gaining notoriety. The first use of the term is unknown, but the word first appeared in print in London police-court reports in 1894 referring to the name of a gang of youths in the Lambeth area of London—the Hooligan Boys,[5] and later—the O'Hooligan Boys.[6] In August 1898 a murder in Lambeth committed by a member of the gang drew further attention to the word which was immediately popularized by the press.[7] The London-based newspaper Daily Graphic wrote in an article on 22 August 1898, "The avalanche of brutality which, under the name of 'Hooliganism' ... has cast such a dire slur on the social records of South London".[2][3]

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